Book publishing meets YouTube

If you’re a YouTube star with a robust fan base, you just got one step closer to publishing a book.

This NYTimes article from yesterday is all about a new imprint called Keywords Press — a joint venture between Simon & Schuster’s Atria Publishing Group and the Hollywood United Talent Agency — that wants to publish books by YouTube entertainers.

Judith Curr, the president and publisher of Atria, says signing YouTube celebrities “gives us access to a whole new talent pool.” Credit Nancy Borowick for The New York Times

Judith Curr, the president and publisher of Atria, says signing YouTube celebrities “gives us access to a whole new talent pool.” Credit Nancy Borowick for The New York Times

There is precedence for YouTube stars to publish books, and it is common practice for book publishers to mine for manuscripts from well-known individuals with built-in followings, but it’s really interesting to see a whole imprint dedicated to the gambit and to even tweak their publishing models to follow YouTube-like practices; most of these books will be crowdsourced, and they’ll be shot out into the marketplace faster than other books.

In the article, iJustine (one of five YouTube stars who have already signed deals with Keywords) says, “I’ve always wanted to write a book, but the proposal process is kind of crazy [….] I would say, ‘Why can’t I just do it?’ That’s what we are used to doing online.'”

I just hope these YouTubers are also good writers. Having a talent for making videos and a ready-made audience is great, but there’s something to be said for having the chops to write well, too. Being sellable shouldn’t be the only prerequisite to getting published. I also hope there’s still room in the publishing industry for all the aspiring authors who haven’t had time to build their own customer bases because they were, you know, busy learning how to write a good book.


Travelbots? Droid Guides? Virtu-Travel?

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about taking a trip (it’s been a while), but I’m not sure where to go that would be within my budget and still be adventurous. This morning on my way to work, I was thinking how great it would be to pay Nature a visit. Grand vistas. Tall mountains. Majestic rivers. And then I remembered that it’s winter for everyone above Florida, and also how I hate camping and inclines and stuff.

So, wouldn’t it be lovely if I could experience the majesty of travelling through the Rockies via some kind of android surrogate? It would be exactly like being there — I could breathe in the cool, fresh air, and reach down and feel the shrubbery (shrubbery? I have no idea what the Rockies are like), without any of the hassle of actually going there.

That’s me in the middle.

Of course, this would require a very sophisticated android set-up, and some kind of sensory deprivation tank to sit inside… Plus, I guess the same could be accomplished by a VR simulation. Or a really good IMAX movie. And I know it wouldn’t be exactly the same as being there, but at the very least, it’d be a cool promotional tool for travel agents, no?

Maybe I’ll just file this away for a possible future short story.


From the Minds and Hearts of TV Writer Guys

At the risk of turning this blog into little more than the place where I post stuff so I can reference them later, here is an interesting blog post from Leverage co-showrunner John Rogers on writing for TV shows and the spectrum series fall along between “shows about emotions” and “shows about systems.”

On the subject of TV writing/showrunning, I would also recommend this episode of the Making It podcast, hosted by Riki Lindhome, that features man-after-my-heart Joss Whedon.

Besides finding this stuff interesting as a fan of serialized TV, I also find it really motivating. Hell, it’s enough to make me want to actually write something, as opposed to writing about writing FOR ONCE. (And, for the sake of disclosure, I like reading/listening to stuff like this because I believe this kind of discourse can apply, in limited ways, to other forms of writing, including novels. It’s all about story and characters, after all.)

Props to the Dialogue

I love this bit of dialogue from Boardwalk Empire (episode: “Broadway Limited“) for its brevity and how Nucky controls the scene. (This post is more for me than you. You’re welcome.)

How is he still alive after three days out in the cold?

He’s fat.

What the fuck’s that supposed to mean?

He’s insulated. I dunno. How the fuck should I know? The cold, and the buckshot–I’m no doctor.


I thought we killed them all.

‘Thought.’ Fuckin’ Aristotle. [To Eli] So, what are they doin’ to him?

What difference does it make? Guy’s got a hole in his stomach big as a grapefruit. He thaws out a little–he’s a goner.

Now you’re a doctor.

What are you mad at me for?

I’m late. Let nature take its course, help it along if you can. And you better hope he dies real soon.

Some things DON’T need to be said aloud (but I’m doing it anyway)

So, I wrote a really terrible YA horror novel when I was around 12 or 13. [Okay, confession: I was 12 AND 13, ’cause it took me a year to write it.] The whole thing was the result of consuming too many R.L. Stine and Christopher Pike novels, though I have no regrets.

Ten years later, I read a chapter from it at a session of Grownups Read Things They Wrote as Kids. AND! Luckily for me, the incomparable Laura Godfrey recorded the whole thing.

Now, luckily for you, I’ve decided to post it here. Enjoy!

Child of Evil: Chapter 15 by 12/13-year-old Zalina Alvi

P.S. Please remember that I wrote this as a child. Please.